Is It A Good Idea To Back Up Your Business On The Cloud?

Cloud computing allows companies such as Salesforce, Amazon and Microsoft, among many others, to deliver software(SAAS), platforms(PAAS) and infrastructure (IAAS) as a service to their clients from remote locations. Improvements in networking technology, quality and bandwidth of internet connectivity mean that cloud computing is mainstream today and soon will be the dominant option over on-site computing. Both storage and data-backup are services provided by vendors as IAAS (Infrastructure as a service). While there are multiple options for backing up business data, cloud storage is competitive as one of them.

How does cloud data-backup work?

Cloud data-backup, also known as online backup operates by utilizing remote cloud locations for backing up data. The cloud location is typically maintained by a specialized provider and may be proprietary, private or public in nature and terms of operation. Cloud data-backup services run on a regular schedule to perform data-backup – collecting, compressing, encrypting and transferring data to servers at the cloud location.

What are the advantages of backing up business data to the cloud?

The primary advantages of using cloud storage to backup business data are:

  • No capital costs towards purchasing servers, networking gear and hardware
  • Organizations with minimal IT staff can easily oversee backup
  • Better operational performance, business outcomes, management and accountability for data backup related functions
  • High levels of flexibility in terms of stepping down or ramping down on storage requirements on -demand; While this kind of elasticity is particularly true of public clouds, private clouds also offer capacity that is elastic as per the agreement with the vendor

What are the different types of cloud data-backup?

These are the various types of cloud data-backup.

  • Public cloud backup

Here, the provider utilizes the cloud location to provide services to several individuals and organizations over the internet, not just yours. The services may follow a free or a paid model. The key advantage with utilizing a public cloud backup is that it is relatively inexpensive since it relies on shared cloud resources.

  • Private cloud backup

A private cloud backup is specifically designed to meet the backup needs of one particular organization and often employs proprietary design/architecture elements to meet specific needs

  • Hybrid cloud backup

A hybrid cloud backup blends on-premises, public and private cloud facilities to satisfy client-specific needs

Will cloud data-backup be right for my business?

These are some of the considerations to take into account when you are thinking about utilizing cloud data-backup for your organization:

  • How much data are you looking to back up? For large amounts of data, conventional backup techniques utilizing DVD’s, tape or USB connected devices may be more appropriate.

We have has come up with some guidelines which you may consider– according to these, cloud storage data-backup is appropriate only when the amount of data to be backed up is less than 100GB per 1Mb network bandwidth. This would mean for instance, that a 4Mbps network connection can support cloud data-backup only if the amount of data to be transferred is less than 400GB.

  • Is the data business critical with a short recovery time objective? If so, traditional backup techniques may be better given that data transfer speeds that can be accomplished via network are always lower when compared to data transfer speeds achievable from offline storage devices
  • How much is the growth rate of data? Russ Fellows guidelines are that cloud data-backup is suitable if the rate of growth of data is less than 10% of total data volume every month.

Which type of cloud data-backup will be right for my business?

These are some factors you can take into account if you have made a firm decision to implement cloud-based data backup at your organization.

  • If your IT, systems and data environments are marked by restrictions on data-sharing security concerns or highly stringent SLA’s, you should opt for a private cloud designed and operated to your specific requirements
  • If your business demands are such that storage capacity frequently needs to be ramped up on demand or in a somewhat ad-hoc manner, a private cloud would be a good choice
  • If you have a limited IT budget, have fairly relaxed SLA requirements and have low to medium data privacy requirements, the public cloud would be the right choice
  • If your backup requirements are quite unique, you have the IT budget to absorb managerial overheads and are willing to accept the high maintenance/developments costs associated with technical systems of extremely high complexity, you can opt for a fully custom-built hybrid cloud solution.

A hybrid cloud solution would be designed with interconnections and specific division of functions between a public cloud and a private cloud – the private cloud handling critical data with privacy requirements, while the public cloud is tapped only to backup non-critical data.